PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Golf is just a game. Ryan Palmer understands that a whole lot more now.
The Amarillo, Texas, native opened the Honda Classic by shooting 9-under 131 to put himself atop a busy leaderboard Friday afternoon at PGA National, but just being inside of the ropes is therapy for Palmer. Jennifer, his wife of 15 years, has been battling breast cancer, adversity they have dealt with less than two years after Palmer’s father, Butch, died in a single-car crash. He would have turned 73 on Thursday.
“When you get inside the ropes, everything kind of goes away,” Palmer said. “You enjoy those four or five hours. You kind of get away. It helps to make golf less aggravating at times. You realize it’s just a game we’re playing, but it is what I do.”
Jennifer was diagnosed with cancer last summer and has undergone surgery and chemotherapy. She was diagnosed relatively early but is still being treated.
“Radiation is next week and she’ll be done with all treatments in August,” Palmer said. “She’s still got some things to go through.”
Palmer has understandably struggled in 2017, opening with four missed cuts and a tie for 49th at last week’s Genesis Open. However, a trip to PGA National, where he has four top-30 finishes in the past five years, has been just what the doctor ordered.
“I love this golf course. I love coming here,” Palmer said. “We get back into the heat, and the greens are pure. But you’ve got to drive the ball and you’ve got to hit your irons well. It’s been my strength the last few years, so coming here, you don’t have to shoot 7-, 8- or 9-under par each day. If you break par on this golf course, you’re going to be in contention on the weekend.”